43 degrees – partly cloudy
- Dan Quinn’s Atlanta Falcons opened the game with a TD drive, which was helped by a much better tempo than they’ve shown this year. The Falcons went on to establish an early 14-0 lead, and the Seahawks were in chase mode all game.
- There were a number of key decision points in this game for both head coaches that significantly affected the outcome of this game.
- Key Decision #1: With the Falcons ahead 21-10, the Seahawks had the ball and a 3rd & 11 at the Falcons’ 13-yard line, at 7:25 in the 2nd quarter. QB Russell Wilson completed a pass to TE Jimmy Graham at the first down marker, and the officials declared a first down. However, the replay indicated the spot may have been too generous. We felt a challenge would have been successful but Dan Quinn chose not to challenge it. The Seahawks ultimately scored a TD to close to 21-17.
- Key Decision #2: Trailing 24-17, the Seahawks took possession of the ball with just 57 seconds left in the first half. The Seahawks moved into range for a 35-yard FG with five seconds left in the half, facing a 4th &1, and with one time out left. The Seahawks lined up for a FG attempt, but Head Coach Pete Carroll inexplicably called a fake and attempted a shovel pass to backup TE Luke Willson. The play was stuffed, and instead of going into halftime trailing 24-20, the Seahawks trailed 24-17. This caused the Seahawks to chase 8 and 11 point deficits the entire 2nd half, and to ultimately lose the game by three points. This sequence reflected very poor judgment by Carroll, and ultimately cost his team the game.
- Key Decision #3: Down 31-23, Head Coach Pete Carroll challenged an incompletion call on a WR Doug Baldwin reception attempt. Replay showed clearly that Baldwin never caught the ball, but Carroll appeared caught up in the emotion of the crowd. Seattle lost the challenge, a key time out in a one score game, and combined with an early time out in the 3rd quarter, was left with only one time out with more than nine minutes left in the game.
- Key Decision #4: Up 31-23, the Falcons faced a 4th and goal, with the ball mere inches from the goal line. 4:18 remained in the game, and Dan Quinn wisely chose to kick the FG and take a two-score lead on the road at a tough venue. This decision would lead to a three point victory.
- Key Decision #5: Up 34-31 with two minutes left in the game and facing a 3rd & 3, Atlanta had an opportunity to close out the game with a first down. Run or pass? We felt a running play would have been the wiser choice as it was sure to cause the Seahawks to burn their last time out. However, the Falcons chose to pass, but QB Matt Ryan was sacked, which forced Seattle to burn the time out anyway.
- Key Decision #6: Finally, with seven seconds left in the game, and down 34-31, the Seahawks drove the ball into place for a 52-yard FG attempt. The Seahawks did not have any time outs left. Instead of attempting the FG, the Seahawks actually lined up for another play – they clearly were thinking of trying to run one more play to the sideline for an additional 3-4 more yards, as they knew they were on the edge of K Blair Walsh’s distance, especially in near sub 40 degree weather. Such a decision also would be in line with Pete Carroll’s aggressive attitude – trying to squeeze out one more play in under seven seconds certainly would qualify as aggressive. During an Atlanta time out, however, Carroll changed his mind, and he sent his FG unit onto the field. Walsh’s kick came up about two yards short.